Every year PIC (that's what I call Michelle...Partner in Crime) and I try to do a race during the season that is just for pure fun. Like don't take it serious, just show up and have fun! Last weekend the Irongirl series came to the Cherry Creek Reservoir, which just happens to be across the street from my house. Wha-LAH! It was a no brainer.
I tried to get PIC to race in our jail themed bikinis, but she was like "no way" and we compromised with our PIC1 and PIC2 bikini tops with our old red Kompetitive Edge shorts.
The event had race day packet pickup, and can I just say THANK YOU for that! We showed up that morning, about 10 minutes before packet pickup closed and got our stuff. A huge highlight was the pink sparkly wrist bands! I loved them and was sad to clip mine off a few days later. But Athleta (the title sponsor...AWESOME) gave us purple bracelets that say "Power to the She" on them, and I don't think I'll be taking that one off for a VERY long time!
The Ironngirl sprint is a women's only race. I have never raced a women's only event, but this will not be my last. It was so awesome to have lots of fit women in transition, total girl power, and it just took such an edge off. I felt at ease, and I would really suggest that any women doing their first tri start with this race. It was a perfect introduction to the sport. Although I think someone starting with this race might be a little disappointed racing other races after this, because they treated us so well.
Troy was taking care of Annie, and also Michelle's girls Charlotte and Isabelle. After setting up transition Michelle and I headed to the swim start. Michelle was in the first wave and I told her I fully expected her to be first out of the water, to maintain her lead through the bike, and to be the first to cross the finish line. It was expected. We erupted in laughter. However, that's exactly what she did. She even had the lead biker on the run, and that is just awesome!!!
Michelles wave got going and I watched her the entire swim, leading and then pulling away. Someone in my wave commented on her and I was like "That's my best friend" yes....apparently I'm still in High School but I was so proud of her leading that swim.
We got lined up, I was in the 4th wave and I had a really great swim the night before so I was ready to go for it. They sounded the horn and we all started swimming. There were 4 of us right off the bat that pulled to the front. One woman pulled away and I was unable to match her pace. The other two ladies and I swam together for a little bit and then I pulled ahead.
The course was designed really smart. Usually in the res they have people swim into the sun, but race staff angled it right and the swim was really straight forward and not into the sun. The buoys were in line, and properly spaced, it was just really done right, and I'm kinda picky.
Out of the swim in 11:28 I was STOKED! I felt strong and was 2nd out of the water in my age group. 3 feet out of the water, Sally Wang ran past me. She had swam on my feet and now was outrunning me into T2. We had to go up like 5 sets of stairs and Sally was making short work of them. I was huffing and puffing up those things, giving myself a little pep talk internally to GOOOO!!!
Helmet and bib# on and I was out of there. Everything was so panicked. It's a sprint so I was redlining and trying to put my shoes on! GO Sonja! I got back past Sally who was on an ITU set up representing her friend's company, C2CTurf - used artificial turf. She looked great. I put my head down looked at a high wattage number and just tried to nail it.
It was so hard to go to that deep uncomfortable place, plus maintaining control of my bike while riding at a much faster speed than I am used to at a much higher heart rate than I'm used to. I almost missed a turn because I was hammering so hard and I barely had time to break and make it. I may or may not have locked up the breaks and literally skidded around the corner. Poor volunteer! But its a RACE and I love to RACE!
The volunteers were really great on course. They were so positive and did their jobs really well. I saw Michelle out there hammering in the lead and it inspired me to keep going as hard as I could. When the watts would drop I would just crank them back up again. It was really really fun. 30:53 for 12 miles and I was off that bike in the blink of an eye.
Off the bike and onto the run, I was nervous that Sally would catch me since she seemed light and fast. The girls were running with me and yelling at me like the best cheer crew an Irongirl could ask for. I love that Michelle and Is girls are so supportive and love watching their moms race. I ran as fast as I could, which was unfortunately about as fast as I run an olympic...maybe a 70.3. Where is my upper end? I was trying! I run the course probably 3 times a week so I knew every nook and cranny. It was awesome to be on home turf. I think one of the coolest parts of the day was when I was coming in the last half mile and a lot of the women were going out on the run and it dawned on me, in the heat of the moment, that it was all women. Just a ton of girl strength, it was very empowering and really helped me dig deeply.
Into the finish line the girls ran me in, and Michelle was there with a big grin, as well as Troy who was probably in the midst or female overload! Such a great sport. 21:01 run time for a total sprint time of 1:05:31!
the finish line was the best. They medaled you, and handed you this ginormous bottle of water! Like HUGE! Great sponsor. They had a full breakfast set up for the finishers complete with burritos, eggs, sausage, yogurt, fruit, you name it! They were even making FlapJacked protein pancakes on site. It was the best post race meal I have ever had!
Michelle and I grabbed our phones and downloaded the Irongirl app and our results were posted. Michelle had won her AG which she knew because she was first across the line. She was 6th overall and I had won the race overall. That was awesome and made me feel really great. The winner schwag was pretty darn awesome. Arm warmers, hydration waist belt, car decal, beautiful pendant that says "Every girl has an iron core" and a $100 gift card to Athleta. So well taken care of!
All in all this was a fantastic race. I would love to do it again next year. The race was really well run, it had small event charm with big event perfection. Maybe next year I can get a big group to do it and we can costume up and make a day of it! Unfortunately, after the race, I had to go ride 100 miles for Kona prep. But I had a smile on my face the whole time from such a fantastic morning.
Huge thanks to Troy, Annie, Char, Iz for the cheers, and also to my sponsors for helping me do this sport I love so much. Thanks to Irongirl for a great event.